Saturday, December 10, 2016

Head Lopper Volume 1: The Island or A Plague of Beasts

Head Lopper: The Island or a Plague of Beasts is a fun, rollicking, beautifully rendered adventure story. The story follows a hulking, bearded warrior who is known by several names:
Ever humble, he would prefer to just be called Norgal. As his many monikers imply, he is a skilled monster slayer, and his specialty is cutting off their heads. Here he is hired by the ruler of Barra to rid the realm of a plague of beasts unleashed by an evil sorcerer. He is accompanied on his journey by the head of Agatha Blue Witch, who constantly annoys and cajoles him.
In this book, he encounters and fights many adversaries, including the evil sorcerer, ghosts, giants, witches, giant fire-breathing wolves, a conniving royal advisor, greedy and vengeful priests, and a treacherous little man named Gnym. All of these creatures and beings are wonderfully, horrendously, and gorgeously drawn, which adds tremendously to the appeal of this book. There are also lots of twists and turns, double-crossings, and surprises in the plot that keep things very interesting and compelling for the reader.

This beautiful genre confection was created by Andrew MacLean, whose earlier graphic novel Apocalyptigirl was similarly fun and sumptuously illustrated. He might not have much work published as of yet, but the ones he display an excellent sense of craft and artistry. He speaks at length about his work on Head Lopper in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been ringing. Justin Partridge wrote, "Rarely has high fantasy looked this stylish or been this fun of a read." Publishers Weekly opined that "the strength of the action sequences and dynamic page layouts make it a worthwhile read overall." Patrick Larose praised MacLean as he "manages to take these typically thin-character types and makes them feel full and engaging again."

Head Lopper Volume 1 was published by Image Comics, and they have more about the book and series here. This book is pretty violent and bloody and has a few spots of profanity, so it is suggested for readers mature enough to handle those things.

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